Washington Watch - 4/18/16
As we approached “Tax Day,” I was proud to join House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and many of my colleagues last week for a press conference in support of H.R. 27, the “Tax Code Termination Act.” This legislation is a crucial step towards eliminating our broken federal tax code and replacing it with a simpler, fairer system that actually works for the American people. Under H.R. 27, Congress would have until July 4, 2019, to approve a new federal tax system, and absent a two-thirds majority vote in Congress, our current tax code would expire on December 31, 2019.
Rep. Rob Woodall joins his House colleagues to support eliminating the Income Tax Code
While H.R. 27 doesn’t endorse a specific tax reform proposal as a replacement for our current system, it’s no secret I believe the FairTax (H.R. 25) is the solution. With Tax Day upon us, millions of Americans have again devoted valuable time, energy, and financial resources to sorting through the myriad complexities and consequences of IRS regulations, but thankfully, we have a clear alternative – the FairTax. I’m grateful to everyone for partnering in that effort, and I’m confident we’re closer than ever to making Tax Day just another beautiful spring day.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. The best alternative to tax day
Last week the House passed a bill to increase transparency and accountability for a very powerful group of unelected bureaucrats at the Office of Financial Research (OFR) and the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), which were established by the Dodd-Frank Act. Those two agencies are responsible for making financial decisions that could have a major impact on American investments and jobs, but unlike many other powerful federal agencies, they do not have to come to Congress to request funding, which means they operate largely without Congressional oversight. That’s very dangerous for taxpayers, and that danger was articulated by a federal judge in a recent court case in which an FSOC decision affecting MetLife, which has a strong presence in Georgia, was overturned. According to the court, FSOC “ignored or, at least, abandoned” two definitions from its own formal guidance without any explanation. What that means is that FSOC told MetLife to expect one thing during a designation determination process and then did something different. Complying with regulatory guidance is already an expensive, time-consuming endeavor, and it’s all for nothing if regulators can change their minds like FSOC did. I was pleased to support H.R. 3340, the “Financial Stability Oversight Council Reform Act,” which will bring much needed Congressional oversight to FSOC, and I hope to see it advance in the Senate very soon.
Last week, Republicans and Democrats in the House came together to pass a bill that will spur the development of drugs to combat the Zika virus. S. 2512 adds Zika to the list of tropical diseases under which a drug company can obtain an FDA fast-track voucher. Shepherding a new prescription drug through the FDA’s laborious approval process can take many years and many millions of dollars. Under this voucher procedure, the drug company that produces a drug to combat Zika will have special priority at the FDA for a six-month review process instead of the normal 12-18 month review process. This bill harnesses the power of our nation’s most intelligent scientists to develop a treatment and a cure for this terrible disease that threatens so many unborn babies throughout the Americas.
- The Hill. House approves bill to speed up Zika drugs
- Reuters. Congress sends Obama bill on Zika drug development
I know how distressing the prospect of Zika in the United States is, especially as we move into the notoriously hot and humid summer months in Georgia. That’s why I hope you will take a moment to learn more about what our government’s premier public health agency, Atlanta’s very own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is doing to combat this disease as well as learn more about travel warnings and information for pregnant women and their families. Please visit the CDC’s Zika website to learn more.
Finally, I want to take a moment to applaud the Obama Administration’s recent decision to use all our existing financial resources to help fight Zika. You’ll remember that Congress appropriated money to help fight the Ebola epidemic last year, and thanks to the great work of folks at the CDC, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the American military, we have been able to largely stop the spread of Ebola. There’s still money left in the Ebola account, however, and I’m very happy that President Obama has decided to redirect that emergency funding – over $500 million – to fighting the threat of Zika. While stopping Zika will certainly take a financial investment, I am happy to know that the President is willing to work with Congress in a fiscally responsible way.
Last week the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled “Unlawful Reinsurance Payments: CMS Diverting $3.5 Billion from Taxpayer to Pay Insurance Companies.” You’ve probably heard that as part of the President’s health care law, there is a program that collects money from health insurance companies and then redistributes that money to insurers who enroll the highest cost, highest risk individuals. The program is supposed to encourage insurers to take part in Obamacare by ensuring that they don’t lose millions of dollars on insuring patients who are going to use a disproportionately large and expensive amount of health care.
What’s most important to note, however, is that the law specifically states that part of the money paid by insurers must be deposited into the Treasury and can’t be used to implement the program. Despite the law’s clear direction, the Obama Administration has been diverting the money that was meant for the Treasury into payments to insurers. The Energy and Commerce Committee is doing a tremendous job investigating this potentially unlawful exercise of power by the Obama Administration, and I look forward to following the Committee’s progress and ensuring that we hold the Administration accountable to the American people and the law.
- The Hill. GOP lawmakers press Obamacare official on ‘illegal’ payments
- Morning Consult. CMS’s Slavitt defends decision to prioritize insurers in reinsurance program
This week the House is expected to consider four important bills from the House Ways and Means Committee that combat abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): H.R. 1206, H.R. 3724, H.R. 4885, and H.R. 4890. While there is much more to be done, with these bills, we will deliver immediate results for the American people and make the IRS more accountable and responsive to their needs.
Member of Congress